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The Importance of Surface Irrigation During Dry Weather

Watering your arena surface has never been more important than during the summer months, when increased temperatures and a lack of rainfall can quickly cause your surface to dry out. Ideally, your surface should have a minimum moisture content of 4%, but around 6-8% for optimum performance. Without the correct amount of moisture your surface will become significantly unstable; fibre will begin to migrate to the top of the footing and the silica sand will become loose and deep, making riding conditions difficult and increasing the risk of strain related injuries.

How do I know if my riding surface is too dry?

The only way to know the exact moisture content of your surface is to have it tested, which we can do at our laboratory, to an EN standard. However, if your surface is riding deeper than usual and the fibres have started to separate from the sand, this usually means that the surface is too dry.

The simplest way to check this, without sending a sample off to the laboratory for testing, is to grab a handful of the surface and try shaping it into a ball. If the surface sticks together and ball holds its shape, the moisture content of your surface is probably ok. If the ball falls apart, like a sandcastle would if made with dry sand, it’s likely that the surface needs watering.

equestrian arena surface

What should I do if my arena surface is too dry?

The main solution for a dry surface is to add lots of water. Ideally, this should be done using either a bowser, sprinklers, or an in-surface pipe system commonly known as “Leaky pipes”. Alternatively, if irrigating your surface is not practical, you could always upgrade the surface to a waxed footing using our Topwax™ service.

It is also important that you do not grade the surface too deeply. This helps to prevent the lower half of the surface, which should still be damp and compacted, from being disturbed. If you do need to grade the surface, make sure that your tines are set on the highest level.

How much water do I need?

The main answer to this question is lots! Unfortunately, as no two situations are ever the same, it is impossible to give you an exact figure without first completing the appropriate tests. However, the adjacent table provides examples of how much water you would need to add to a surface, to bring the moisture content back to a suitable level.

horse arena surface irrigation table
grading an equestrian arena surface

What should I do once I’ve watered my surface?

Once the appropriate amount of water has been added back into the surface, it should be graded. This will help to disperse the water evenly throughout the surface and re-mix any fibres that have become separated. In some extreme cases, the surface may need to be professionally re-mixed, which we can complete for you on a cost basis.

Have Questions?

If you’d like to speak to a member of the team about your surface, simply complete our contact form or give us a call on 0800  044 8101.